Review: iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus | iLounge

Review

Review: iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus

A-
Highly Recommended

Company: Apple

Models: iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus

MSRP: $649-$949

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Phil Dzikiy

Pros: Upgraded cameras bring higher-quality photos and video to the iPhone. Live Photos are a neat, new feature. 3D Touch display adds a new dimension to the user interface, which makes navigating the home screen easier and opens up a number of new possibilities within apps. The A9 processor and 2GB of RAM make for a faster overall experience. Touch ID is super-fast and easy. The new aluminum alloy feels a bit nicer to hold. Both 6s phones appear to fit well in the vast majority of 6 cases and many 6 Plus cases.

Cons: Battery life in the iPhone 6s takes a step back. 16GB models aren’t worth it; we consider the 64GB model a better option by far. A lack of third-party apps supporting 3D Touch thus far make the feature a bit limited at this time. The iPhone 6s speaker is a bit disappointing — and the smaller phone doesn’t have quite the feature set of the 6s Plus.

Apple makes claims of 11 hours of Wi-Fi web browsing for iPhone 6s and 12 hours for iPhone 6s Plus. The company also claims iPhone 6s will reach up to 11 hours of video playback, while iPhone 6s Plus is said to hit 14 hours of runtime. The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus notably have slightly smaller batteries than those found in their predecessors — Apple sacrificed here for the 3D Touch display, thin profile, and Taptic Engine — 6s drops to 1715 mAh from the prior 1810, and 6s Plus shrank to 2750 from 2915. One of the phones did much better than the other in our tests when compared to Apple’s claims. In all of our tests, the iPhones are set to 50 percent brightness and 50 percent volume.

In Wi-Fi browsing test, our 6s conked out at six hours, which falls far short of Apple’s claims. We’ve decided to run another battery test on the 6s to see if this improves, and we’ll update when that is complete. The iPhone 6s Plus gave us a bit more than 10 hours. Much better, but still well short of Apple’s 12-hour claim.

Update: We ran the Wi-Fi browsing test again for the iPhone 6s — this time, the phone gave us exactly 8.5 hours worth of run time. It’s possible — even probable— that iOS 9.0.2 has something to do with this, but it probably shouldn’t make that much of a difference. The iPhone still falls short of Apple’s 11-hour claim, but now the result is respectable. We’re more confident in the results of this second test, and it eases our mind a bit regarding the 6s’ battery life.

Our video test was much easier for the iPhone 6s Plus, as the device ended up running just a few minutes shy of Apple’s 14-hour claims. The iPhone 6s struggled again, tapping out at a disappointing 6.5 hours.

Our demanding gaming test, featuring Infinity Blade III, was better for the 6s, with the device registering around where we’d expect. It ran for 4 hours and 10 minutes, which is actually an improvement over the iPhone 6. The 6s Plus held out for an amazing 7 hours and 27 minutes, far exceeding the 5 hours and 37 minutes of last year’s 6 Plus. We suspect Apple’s upgraded innards, running in conjunction with the efficient iOS 9, are creating a leap in this category.

As one might suspect, smaller batteries make for quicker recharging. The iPhone 6s fully recharged in 2 hours and 20 minutes with the included adapter, which is just a tad less than it took to recharge the iPhone 6. The iPhone 6s Plus was brought back to a full charge in about 3 hours, just a bit quicker than in the iPhone 6 Plus. Unlike with the previous iPhones, using a 2.1A adapter didn’t seem to make much difference in this test, but it may if you’re running apps while recharging.

Also worth noting is the upgraded Wi-Fi (with MIMO support) and LTE Advanced support. Anecdotally, it appears a slight difference is perceptible, but there are many factors at play when checking cellular and Wi-Fi speeds. At this point, we’ll just say, so far, so good.

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Editors' Note: iLounge only reviews products in "final" form, but many companies now change their offerings - sometimes several times - after our reviews have been published. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.

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